Nursing is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. Nurses may be differentiated from other health care providers by their approach to patient care, training, and scope of practice. Nurses practice in many specialisms with differing levels of prescriber authority. Many nurses provide care within the ordering scope of physicians, and this traditional role has shaped the public image of nurses as care providers. However, nurses are permitted by most jurisdictions to practice independently in a variety of settings depending on training level. In the postwar period, nurse education has undergone a process of diversification towards advanced and specialized credentials, and many of the traditional regulations and provider roles are changing.
Nurses develop a plan of care, working collaboratively with physicians, therapists, the patient, the patient's family and other team members, that focuses on treating illness to improve quality of life. In the U.S. (and increasingly the United Kingdom), advanced practice nurses, such as clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, diagnose health problems and prescribe medications and other therapies, depending on individual state regulations. Nurses may help coordinate the patient care performed by other members of an interdisciplinary health care team such as therapists, medical practitioners and dietitians. Nurses provide care both interdependently, for example, with physicians, and independently as nursing professionals.
The authority for the practice of nursing is based upon a social contract that delineates professional rights and responsibilities as well as mechanisms for public accountability. In almost all countries, nursing practice is defined and governed by law, and entrance to the profession is regulated at the national or state level.
The aim of the nursing community worldwide is for its professionals to ensure quality care for all, while maintaining their credentials, code of ethics, standards, and competencies, and continuing their education. There are a number of educational paths to becoming a professional nurse, which vary greatly worldwide; all involve extensive study of nursing theory and practice as well as training in clinical skills.
Nurses care for individuals of all ages and cultural backgrounds who are healthy and ill in a holistic manner based on the individual's physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, social, and spiritual needs. The profession combines physical science, social science, nursing theory, and technology in caring for those individuals.
To work in the nursing profession, all nurses hold one or more credentials depending on their scope of practice and education. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) (also referred to as a licensed vocational nurse, registered practical nurse, enrolled nurse, and state enrolled nurse) works independently or with a registered nurse (RN). The most significant differentiation between an LPN and RN is found in the requirements for entry to practice, which determines entitlement for their scope of practice. For example, Canada requires a bachelor's degree for the RN and a two-year diploma for the LPN. A registered nurse provides scientific, psychological, and technological knowledge in the care of patients and families in many health care settings. Registered nurses may earn additional credentials or degrees.
In the USA, multiple educational paths will qualify a candidate to sit for the licensure examination as a registered nurse. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is awarded to the nurse who has completed a two-year undergraduate academic degree awarded by community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, and bachelor's degree-granting colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study usually lasting two years. It is also referred to as Associate in Nursing (AN), Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AAS), or Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) is awarded to the nurse who has earned an American four-year academic degree in the science and principles of nursing, granted by a tertiary education university or similarly accredited school. After completing either the LPN or either RN education programs in the USA, graduates are eligible to sit for a licensing examination to become a nurse, the passing of which is required for the nursing license. The National Licensure Examination (NCLEX) test is a multiple choice exam nurses take to become licensed. It costs two-hundred dollars to take the NCLEX. It examines a nurses ability to properly care for a client. Study books and practice tests are available for purchase.
Nurses may follow their personal and professional interests by working with any group of people, in any setting, at any time. Some nurses follow the traditional role of working in a hospital setting. Other options include: Pediatrics, Neonatal, Maternity, OBGYN, Geriatrics, Ambulatory, or Nurse Anesthetists. There are many other options nurses can explore depending on the type of degree and education acquired. RNs may also pursue different roles as advanced practice registered nurses.
Nurses are not truly doctor's assistants. This is possible in certain situations, but nurses more often are independently caring for their patients or assisting other nurses. Registered Nurses treat patients, record their medical history, provide emotional support, and provide follow-up care. Nurses also help doctors perform diagnostic tests. Nurses are almost always working on their own or with other nurses. Nurses will assist doctors in the emergency room or in trauma care when help is needed.
Assisting in activities of daily living (ADL) are skills required in nursing as well as other professions such as nursing assistants. This includes assisting in patient mobility, such as moving an activity intolerant patient within bed. For hygiene, this often involves bed baths and assisting with urinary and bowel elimination.
Nurses do not have the authority to prescribe medications, with few exceptions. All medications administered by nurses must be from a medication order from a licensed practitioner. Nurses are legally responsible for the drugs they administer and there may be legal implications when there is an error in a drug order and the nurse could be expected to have noted and reported error. In the United States, nurses have the right to refuse any medication administration that they deem to be harmful to the patient. In the United Kingdom there are some nurses who have taken additional specialist training that allows them to prescribe certain medications.
The patient's family is often involved in the education. Effective patient education leads to fewer complications and hospital visits.
Nursing is the most diverse of all healthcare professions. Nurses practice in a wide range of settings but generally nursing is divided depending on the needs of the person being nursed.
The major populations are:
There are also specialist areas such as cardiac nursing, orthopedic nursing, palliative care, perioperative nursing, obstetrical nursing, oncology nursing, nursing informatics, telenursing.Source : Wikipedia